In connection with the death of Halyna Hutchins, Alec Baldwin was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on “Rust,” was also charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
According to Alec Baldwin’s attorney, the charges are a “terrible miscarriage of justice.”
“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice,” said Quinn Emanuel attorney Luke Nikas. “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
After the charges were announced, Hutchins’ family thanked the sheriff’s office and the district attorney.
“We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life,” according to a statement issued on behalf of the Hutchins family by Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP partner Brian J. Panish.
“Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted. It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law. We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law.”
The charges were announced Thursday morning by New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, more than a year after the tragic death of Hutchins.
Baldwin could face up to 18 months in prison if convicted.
“Involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico is a Class D felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison,” said Neama Rahmani, a former assistant U.S. attorney. “If Baldwin is convicted, I can see him being sentenced at or near the max.”
“Baldwin has a strong defense case, and I can see him pushing the case to trial for legal and public relations reasons,” the attorney continued. “He has to think about his acting career in addition to doing time. But if he rolls the dice and loses at trial, the judge may hammer him for causing Hutchins’ death.”
A plea agreement was signed by assistant director Dave Halls on the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. As part of the agreement, he was sentenced to six months of probation and a suspended sentence.
In connection with the non-fatal shooting of director Joel Souza, no charges have been filed.
“After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew,” stated Carmack-Altwies. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
According to the district attorney, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have been “charged in the alternative.” This means that a jury will determine not only whether the two were guilty, but also under which definition of involuntary manslaughter their actions fall.
“If any one of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls – had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” said Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by the District Attorney to the case. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
The district attorney’s office reviewed a comprehensive report submitted by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office prior to making its decision.
A year has passed since the cinematographer was fatally injured on the set of a movie in New Mexico.
Halyna died when a gun that Alec Baldwin was holding fired during a scene practice on October 21, 2021. It was during the rehearsals at the Bonanza Creek Ranch set that the group had been rehearsing in a small church.
Over the last year, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department has been investigating how live rounds were brought onto the set of the movie. Only armorer Hannah Guiterrez-Reed and assistant director Dave Halls are believed to have handled the gun that fired.
“Never in a million years did Hannah think that live rounds could have been in the ‘dummy’ round box,” Guiterrez-Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, said shortly after the accident. “Who put those in there and why is the central question.”
Halls is accused of handing Baldwin a revolver with a .45 caliber, claiming that it was “cold,” which is a synonym for safe. Her lawyer stated that Gutierrez-Reed had spun the cylinder before showing Halls what was inside the weapon.
Baldwin has maintained that he did not pull the trigger of the gun two times: once during a prime-time interview following the shooting, and again on a podcast. Originally, the actor stated that he had pulled the hammer back as far as he could and released it, but did not discharge the weapon.
As part of her request for emergency funding, Carmack-Altwies specifically referred to Baldwin. It was explained by the DA that she anticipated prosecuting up to four individuals, including Baldwin.
“The ‘Rust’ prosecution could potentially be prosecutions from one (1) to four (4) defendants,” Carmack-Altwies wrote in her application for an emergency grant. “One of the possible defendants is well-known movie actor Alec Baldwin.”
Alec Baldwin and other key members of the production were named as defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit filed on Feb. 15, 2022.
In the lawsuit, Baldwin and others are identified as those “responsible for the safety on the set” and for “reckless behavior and cost-cutting” that contributed to Hutchins’ death, according to the lawyer for Hutchins’ family.
Attorneys for Matthew Hutchins interviewed witnesses before filing the lawsuit and produced a video containing evidence. At a press conference, Matthew’s lawyers reiterated claims made by crew members that the “Rust” set was unsafe. In the lawsuit, Baldwin, who was also a producer on the film, along with the rest of the “Rust” crew and cast are claimed to have violated safety standards on the set in a number of ways.
The cinematographer’s family sued for punitive damages as well as funeral and burial expenses, among other matters originally to be determined at trial. However, Halyna’s husband announced on Oct. 5 that the civil lawsuit had been settled pending approval by the court.
Upon the conclusion of the civil lawsuit, Matthew revealed that filming of the film would continue in January 2023, but would not return to New Mexico, the place where Halyna died.
“The production of ‘Rust’ will not return to New Mexico,” said Melina Spadone, attorney for Rust Movie Productions LLC. “The production is considering other locations, including in California, but no decisions have been made.”
It has not yet been confirmed whether Baldwin will return to the production, but Matthew’s initial announcement indicated that the production would resume with “original principal players.”